Tuesday, July 31, 2007

From Rochester to Rochester

On July 30, we made the long drive from Rochester, MI to Rochester, NY-- one of the longest drives of our entire two month journey. We had a 5:30 PM class in Rochester at the Hochstein School of Music and Dance.

The school is located in an attractive brick building in downtown Rochester. The students are serious and dedicated and they took class in a beautiful studio framed by large windows. The school is quite impressive, and we had the opportunity to look at the performance hall and talk about ballet for a short time before class began. At this class we had an accompanist and I was able to give up my CD pushing duties for one day.

After class we were directed to the nearest Chinese buffet, and then we got back in the car for a drive to Utica, NY. Thank you to everyone at Hochstein for making this such a great experience.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

A Newish Class

There is one class on our calendar that it appears we failed to announce in our blog. On August 2 from 5-7 PM we'll be at the Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, New York.

The page featured on the link above has a nice picture of one of their ballet classes.

We also recently discovered more pictures from our class in Valparaiso, IN taken by the New Times. You can see a slideshow of the pictures and you can order prints and products if you're so inclined. We don't have Valery Lantratov t-shirts... but they do.

Tomorrow we leave for our two day drive from Rochester, Michigan to Rochester, New York. I do not know how much Internet access we will have, but we'll keep you posted as best as we can.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

New Classes

On Friday, July 27th we were originally scheduled to be at one of our favorite schools, The River Raisin Center in Monroe, MI. We've gone there twice and even talked about doing a special weekend long intensive there. Unfortunately, Monroe had the same summer vacation problem that plagued Fowlerville and Dexter, and the class was canceled at the last minute. We're hoping to be able to reschedule for the Labor Day weekend, which is the next time we'll be in Michigan, and if we do we'll keep you posted.

We have a few new classes to announce. On August 6 at 10AM we'll be at the New Cumberland School of Ballet in New Cumberland, PA.

On August 9 we'll have two classes, the first beginning at 1PM at Arabesque Dance Studio in Columbia, MD.

We may have a few more class announcements in the next couple of days, and after that we should be all done with adding classes. So far we've done 42 classes in five states. So having an extra day off on Friday was not entirely unwelcome.

We used the opportunity to visit Detroit's new River Walk, Greektown and the Renaissance Center, which is in fact where Valery Lantratov and I met and worked together for the first time in the fall of 2002. I was the public relations director for a U.S. company that had hired his foundation to provide dancers, and I was largely responsible for a sponsorship promotion with the Saturn division of General Motors. They bought a private concert performance in the Wintergarden at the Renaissance Center, and I was there to act as the liason between the sponsors and the dancers. Because of this history, Valery has more of a soft spot for Detroit than your average Russian tourist might have.

We spent an enjoyable, although hot and humid, afternoon gazing at Canada across the Detroit river. We rode around the circle of the People Mover (elevated train) and looked at all the local landmarks we know like the Detroit Opera House and the Joe Louis Arena. (Valery is a fan of the Red Wings).

Saturday and Sunday we're going to have a rare weekend of total rest before getting back in the car and heading on to the east/south portion of our trip. As of now we're scheduled to teach 47 more classes in seven states.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Small Classes in Fowlerville, MI

We've found that some studios have larger classes in the summer because of special workshops that draw from other area studios. Then there are the other area studios, which have too many students on vacation.

In winter, we visited Maria's School of Dance in Fowlerville, MI and had a large and lively class.

So this summer Maria scheduled two classes with Valery one on Tuesday July 24 and one on Thursday July 26.

Only four students were able to attend the classes, and they certainly got one on one attention in class. The students at Fowlerville are focused, pay attention and take correction well. Small classes like this can be great for the students, but they are more tiring for them because they don't have much opportunity to rest while other groups of students work on combinations.

After class we spoke about the world of dance competitions in America, which we know little about. We're aware of them because of the trophies that line the walls of most studios, but we haven't been to any to see what's involved.

Monday, July 23, 2007

July 23: Mary Skiba School of Dance

This photo from the first of three classes at the Mary Skiba School of Dance gives you an idea of the size of these classes. Each time we visit Mary Skiba's studio, there are full classes and a tight schedule. The classes go smoothly and the students seem to get better each time we visit. Mary has a lively personality and is not afraid to jump in and make comments to her students during class. We always have a great time here and we're looking forward to coming back in the future.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Northville, MI

I'm not sure what Northville is "north" in relation to. The most likely spot would be Detroit, as it is a Detroit suburb, but it is located well to the west-- not the north.

The Center Stage Dance Company in Northville, Michigan is a series of studios in a business warehouse. One studio was packed with theatrical costumes and props which suggests the students do a lot of performing. On one wall was a large sliding door for a truck bay. The floor was decorated with parallel lines in different colors and one blue line on the diagonal.

It was a bit unusual in that the class for the more advanced students came before the class for the lower level. So instead of moving up throughout the day to more advanced combinations, Valery had to subtract for the second class. I only took a few photos in this class, and unfortunately they did not come out well so I have nothing to share here.

This was a new studio for us, and our first time in Northville. Thank you to Lisa Shapiro for inviting us.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

July 21: Stars Unlimited

After a full week at the Mary Kay Manning School, we were reminded that there are also joys in discovering new studios every day.

Wauseon, Ohio (population 7,400), the county seat of Fulton County, is located in the northwest corner of Ohio. Thirty miles east of the Indiana line and 30 miles west of Toledo.

There was some kind of local festival when we arrived for our classes at the Stars Unlimited School of Dance and Baton. The result was that the road was closed on both ends. We took a chance at driving around a barricade, and got to the studio as planned.

The studio is long and narrow with brick walls and a tile floor with a white star in the center. On the wall was a giant cutout of a bear in a leotard. The studio has the largest collection of cassette tapes I've seen in some time. We began with an hour and a half of private instruction with a student named Jenifer who clearly loves ballet.

We followed up with a class with a wide array of ages. There were too many students to fit at the barre, so the older students used a railing that separated a viewing area from the dance space. Valery alternately taught his simple combinations to the little children, and more advanced combinations to the older students.

After class Valery posed for pictures and signed autographs and then it was off to Michigan.

The End of the Week

We finished our week at the Mary Kay Manning School with mixed emotions. There was a feeling of joy and satisfaction at finishing our first full week course, but it is also a little sad because after a full week we've become attached to the kids.

Some of my favorite moments in our finale day came during the children's class. (The rabbit dance shown here is from the little kids' class) First we worked for an hour with the children on the dances they had rehearsed and then the window blinds were open and dozens of mom and dad faces were pressed against the glass.

Throughout the week there had been one very little girl who liked to talk to Valery during the combinations at the barre. "This is my favorite," she said every time he started to do rond de jambe par terre. She tended to trail a few paces behind the other girls and couldn't always remember whether to step with the right or left foot, but she performed with gusto. After the last combination, as she came in a few steps behind the others, Valery gave her a big hug. We'll miss seeing these familiar faces every day.

We saw a lot of change in the students over the course of the week, and the regular teachers, Mary Kay and Tammy took copious notes. So we leave feeling as though our visit did make a difference and we hope the students got a lot out of it.

Thanks to Jennifer Hunter we have too many photographs from these classes. (I believe she will be sharing her photos with Mary Kay) So we don't have to worry about forgetting faces.

The photo above shows one of the students from the middle class speaking to Valery as he stretches between classes.

Thank you to Mary Kay and Tammy and everyone at the studio and thanks also to the Hunter Family for hosting us and for being great friends. It is great to have an excuse to visit.

Next we head to Stars Unlimited in Wauseon, Ohio for private instruction followed by a regular technique class. It will be late August before we have another chance to spend a full week with the same students. We are ready!

(These are the students from the advanced class)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Coming to the End at Mary Kay

During our week long stay at the Mary Kay Manning School of Dance we've had the pleasure of staying with our good friends Jennifer and Shane Hunter and their kids, Zach, Kara and Colin. Colin, who is two, walks around the house on demi pointe most of the time.

Yesterday we met some members of the extended Hunter family. They asked Valery what his favorite ballet is. His answer is Spartacus, the Bolshoi Ballet production with Vladimir Vasiliev. There are some clips of this production on You Tube, and so I include them here for you:

Spartacus was one ballet that was cut from our children's book by the editing team for lack of space. It features some bravura male performances. Vladimir Vasiliev is also perhaps Valery's favorite dancer.

Now back to the story of our classes. Valery arrived from Russia with two new class music CDs. We have used one most of the time. The second has a tempo more suited to professional dancers and longer tracks for big combinations. Until Mary Kay's studio, Valery has felt that it would be too difficult for the students in a typical class. But after a few days at Mary Kay's studio he decided to try it out. It's great to have variety in music, and the change brought new energy to the advanced class. My personal favorite track on the new CD is the track for grande battement which features Prokofiev's music from the ballet Romeo and Juliet. (And incidentally the same music plays on Valery's Myspace page).

A full week with the same students, even in large classes like the ones at Mary Kay's, make it hard for any student to hide in the back and hope the Russian doesn't see them. I should mention that if Valery "picks on you" it probably means he thinks you're doing a good job but could do even better if you changed a habit here or there. In other words, being picked on is a compliment. "You have talent," he said to one student the other day. "If you don't have, I shut up."

Today we will do our final classes at this studio. In the morning we'll spend an hour working with the little ones preparing to show their dance to their parents during the last half hour of class. The two other classes will be open and parents and friends can watch as well.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

July 16-20: Mary Kay Manning Studio

Today we'll be at the halfway mark of our first week long intensive. We are working with students of three different levels at the Mary Kay Manning School of Dance.

Mary Kay and Tammy have studios in Brunswick and North Royalton. Our classes are large because they consist of students from both. The studio offers a full range of classes from jazz to hip hop to lyrical and ballet. Although the students take many classes and participate in competitions, I believe this is an unusually intensive focus strictly on classical ballet for them.

As with other studios, Valery puts a lot of focus on correct posture, keeping the shoulders and hips square, not getting off axis and on the carriage of the arms, fingers and head. He also emphasizes listening to the music and conveying its emotion with gestures and facial expressions and on finishing every motion.

We begin each day with the youngest students. They are working on a special dance to show their parents at the end of the course.

They're learning the dance well, and seem to truly enjoy it. We're working a lot on getting the kids to step in unison and to start on the same foot every time.

After that we work our way up through the junior and senior classes. (This photo is from the junior class) With the senior class, Valery shows the combinations very quickly and expects the students to pick them up as quickly. They have been rising to the challenge.

Working every day with the same students helps to reinforce all of Valery's corrections and we have seen improvement after only one day. What is more, it is wonderful to be able to establish a relationship with students over a period of time and to really get to know them, although Valery knows them by face and by carriage of the arms rather than by name. "You, remember your shoulders!"

We have copies of our book, A Child's Introduction to Ballet with us every day, and we'll be available to autograph copies for anyone who'd like to buy one. Someone pointed out to me that although we mentioned we had them, we hadn't actually mentioned that we wrote the thing. So I'm doing so now.

A full week of three classes a day (especially as Valery tends to run long) is tiring but fulfilling. We're really interested to see how the students have grown by Friday.

By the way, we were tickled by a comment that someone posted on You Tube about Valery. The poster took two classes with him and said, "He rocks!" Cool!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

July 15: Pole Dancing in Toledo

On Sunday we had one of our most unique classes. Valery spent three hours giving private instruction to the owner of Paulette's Studio of Dance which is located in an old school building in Toledo, Ohio. This is not so unusual. What made it unique is that Paulette's niche is teaching pole dancing for fitness. Her students are adults, and she wants to add ballet to her ballroom and pole dance offerings. From where I was sitting to run the music, I could see a large cardboard cut out of Fabio and feather boas, which are not standard equipment at most of our ballet studios.

Paulette trained in ballet back in college, but has since had a more eclectic dance career including dancing in Las Vegas with Sigfried and Roy's show.

The class was a combination of technique and conversation. Valery showed class combinations to Paulette, and they talked about them. Working with one student had a much more relaxed feel than teaching a class of 20. After class, Paulette showed Valery some of her pole dance moves, but was not successful in getting him to try the pole himself.

After this unique class we go on to a full week with the students at Mary Kay Manning's studio in Brunswick, Ohio (near Cleveland). Although we've had the chance to work with many students several times with repeat visits, this will be our first full week working intensively with the same students. We're really looking forward to working this way and having the chance to see students progress over the course of the week.

Here is your fun geographic trivia fact of the day: Did you know that Western Reserve, a ten-county area in northeastern Ohio (home to Mary Kay Manning's studio) was once claimed by Connecticut? It's true.

Im Too Sexy - Right Said Fred

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Spring Arbor MI: July 12 and 13

It seems like a good time now to remind you of Valery Lantratov's podcast. It is an interview recorded in June. If you haven't had a chance to listen to it yet, it is still available here.

I mention it now because in one of the segments Valery mentions Spring Arbor as a favorite studio in America. We were very pleased to have the chance to work with the students two days in a row. In the past we've worked mostly with the older students. This time we had a more diverse mix of older and younger. Valery alternated between combinations for the youngest dancers and more complicated combinations for the more advanced students. (I didn't take any photographs this time around. The picture above is actually from a class at this studio in the winter)

Valery seemed to have been slightly touched by the fact that it was Friday the 13th. He has two pairs of dance shoes with him in America and somehow he ended up with one shoe from each pair. At least they were not both the right or left shoe. He also left his towel behind. Now that the 13th class is over and Friday the 13th is over, we can get past the superstitions and have nothing but successful classes and travel-- knock on wood.

We like to see students who participate 100% in class-- that is, they're doing the combinations with all their energy and focus as though they were performing on stage. This is something we see on a regular basis at this studio. Thank you to Lori Ladwig for inviting us and for the gift baskets. There is a chance we'll be back to this studio this summer. We'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, we do have two new classes to announce. We'll be at the New Cumberland School of Ballet in New Cumberland, PA on August 6 at 10 AM as part of their summer dance camp and on August 15 we return to the Center of Dance in Blacksburg, VA. The time is to be announced.

July 14th is a rare day off without travel. Tomorrow we head to Toldeo, Ohio where Valery will be doing some private instruction and then onto the Cleveland, Ohio area for a full week at the Mary Kay Manning School.

As always you can check our myspace calendar for our entire schedule.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

July 12: Traverse City, Spring Arbor and the Road

One of our favorite places in America is Northern Michigan. Last summer Valery Lantratov visited this area for the first time. We had the opportunity to teach at Just Dance, a small studio in St. Ignace in Michigan's upper peninsula. (Michigan is the only state in the continental U.S. with a quarter of it disconnected from the rest) We were disappointed to learn that the studio has closed. St. Ignace is beautiful in summer.

Another school that we visited on that trip was Ballet Etc. in Traverse City in northern lower Michigan. Fortunately it is still going strong and we made plans to go back. Unfortunately we had a number of scheduling glitches that prevented us from doing so at a particularly leisurely pace.

July 11th we trekked from Valparaiso, Indiana along Lake Michigan's coast to Traverse City. Michigan, incidentally, has 3,288 miles of shoreline-- more than any inland state including Florida. The only state with more coastline is Alaska. It was a scenic and relaxing-- but long-- trip. The time change also made the trip seem longer.

We arrived during Traverse City's annual cherry festival. It's the city's biggest event and many metro Detroiters head north to enjoy it. We may have been the only people checking into a hotel in Traverse City who would not be visiting the festival. We didn't eat a single cherry. We got in around 9PM, unwound briefly in the hotel and went to bed early enough to be ready for our 10 AM class the next day.

Ballet Etc is another school with "good emotion." In fact, before class I met with one woman who told me she regularly reads this blog and enjoys it. It was great to hear that someone is actually reading this. There are smiles all around and a very positive feeling. We only wish we'd had more time to talk with the people after class, but we had no time to lose. We had just enough time to get from Traverse City to a class at 4PM in Spring Arbor, Michigan which is near Jackson.

I had decided to try out Rand McNally's online maps instead of our usual Mapquest. Let's just say that we found them to be not quite as user friendly and odd habits like telling you to go North when you need to turn South are not that useful.

With those early snafus, and very little time between the two classes we were trying to make up a bit of time. Given the number of miles we've logged on the road in the past year, I guess it was inevitable that at some point we would hear those infamous words, "Do you know how fast you were going?" The kind policeman gave us a ticket for 5 miles over the speed limit. In the end we arrived for our Spring Arbor class just in time anyway.

Valery noted that this was our 13th class.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Gary, IN: July 10

Gary, Indiana is one of our favorite cities in which to teach. We've had wonderful experiences every time we've been there.

This was our second visit to the big, lively Dance Excel studio. The kids here are open and warm. One boy who we remember from our last class greeted us each with a strong handshake. The boy pictured to the right has speedy spins and large leaps. Valery is giving him some pointers here on his arm positions for his chaines.

We were told that the kids are taking part in the studio's summer camp and they'd been there that day since 9 AM. Our class started at 6PM. If they were tired, we didn't see any evidence of it.

This studio also produces an impressive glossy magazine. The current edition featured pictures from our last visit and they gave Valery a copy to take back to Moscow. We look forward to returning to Gary in the future.

The routing back to our hotel in Valparaiso took us through Merrillville. On the way we spotted a Chinese buffet, and decided to stop. We got a sense of deja vu. "I think we've eaten here before," I said. Indeed, we had been at this buffet. Last summer we had classes in Hobart and Gary and we stayed in Merrillville for three days. It was then that we remembered that the super buffet we'd been so nostalgic about was also in this city. Last summer we ate at this little buffet and the next day at a different buffet. So we still don't remember the name or exactly where it was-- but we do know in what city we found this place. If we get back here we'll have to look for this place.

Valparaiso, IN: July 10

After our adventures with the lost folder, Valery bought me a special birthday gift, a new set of luggage. Now I have a small shoulder bag that holds everything I need on the road so I will not leave anything behind. I also have a medium sized case for lugging our books in and out of studios. The Mirror Image Dance Academy in Valparaiso, IN was the first studio I entered with my new ensemble. Now we arrive for classes with our travel bags as though we're moving in. It's a much better arrangement.

This was a large and lively class. I didn't take any pictures because owner Deanna Gallardo is also a photographer, and she was taking shots that I am sure will be much better than mine. In the beginning of the class, she was trying to take photos and participate in the class at the same time. I think this is the first time we've seen that!

There was also a photographer on hand from the Post-Tribune. They ran a nice photo feature on the second page (in which they spelled Valery's name "Lantrov"), but I do not think it is available in the on-line edition.

Valparaiso is very close to Gary, Indiana where we would have an evening class, so we stayed in the same hotel. This gave us a rare opportunity to actually go back to the hotel and rest up between classes. What a wonderful luxury!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Elkhorn, WI: July 9

Did you know that Paul McCartney bought the rights to the song "On Wisconsin!" and then sold them to Michael Jackson? Absolutely true.

Valery Lantratov has been to the United States 23 times on various tours. This was his first time in Wisconsin. We didn't sample any of the famous Wisconsin cheese, but did see some Wisconsin cows. That would have to be good enough for this trip.

To give you an idea of the size and feel of Elkhorn, I'll share with you one interesting sight that we witnessed. We passed some sort of meeting hall and in the parking lot a man was waving two orange flags to help all the cars line up correctly. How many cars were there? Four.

The Crossroads Motel outside of Elkhorn is our favorite hotel so far. It has high arched ceilings with wooden beams that give it a warm, rustic feel. Elkhorn is a bit off the tourist map and we loved the authenticity of it. We ate at a small local restaurant not a chain, and got a feel for normal every day life in small town Wisconsin.

The Toe to Toe Ballet School in Elkhorn is located in a former bank. It may be the smallest, most intimate space we've taught in. (One good grand jete and you could hit both walls) It was also the smallest class in terms of the number of students. There were only five. Each student got true individual attention and there was no chance of a student hiding in the back and hoping the Russian would pick on someone else. Valery was especially talkative during this class. More "good emotion."

After class our travel dramas resumed. We were parked in a two hour spot for our hour and a half class, but of course the class ran long. We left the studio just in time to see a man putting a ticket on the car. "We're here, we're here," I said, but no luck. He'd already written it.

Next we backtracked through Hanover Park to pick up my folder. So far, so good. Because we'd made this small diversion from our plans, we needed new directions to our next city. I called the hotel in Valparasio where we'd be staying. The woman very confidently gave me directions. Unfortunately her directions were as wrong as they were confident. Instead of making a nice loop around Chicago on an Interstate, we took a scenic route through the center of the city. We got a nice experience of driving under the L tracks before our road came to an end in the heart of downtown. I called the hotel again and a new woman at the desk said she had no idea how to get to the hotel and we were on our own.

A big thanks to my brother, Cal Lee. As we sat in rush hour traffic on the I-94 on ramp with our gas tank nearly on empty, I called him on my cell phone and he looked up the route on mapquest. This leg of our trip probably took twice as long as it was supposed to and we arrived in Valparasio quite tired, but not too terribly stressed. Fortunately, we were not racing to a second class that day and the travel troubles were not a disaster.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Hanover Park, IL: July 8

One of our new favorite studios is the Faubourg School of Ballet in Hanover Park, IL. We had planned to do one class here, but when we arrived, Watmora Casey, the director asked if Valery could follow the technique class with a pointe class.

The studio teaches only classical ballet and has the best floor we've experienced in all our travels in America. We had arrived during the school's summer intensive. The students take class six days a week, but had signed up to take this special class on the seventh. (Sunday) The students are dedicated and serious and take instruction well. It was a true pleasure for Valery to teach here and also to meet Watmora Casey. He is justly proud of his studio and has a great personality.

Had we known we'd be back in Hanover Park the next day, perhaps we could have done another class. After class I stopped at an ATM and we started to drive to Wisconsin. After 40 minutes or so I asked Valery to hand me my folder so I could check the information on our hotel. My folder? It was on top of the ATM in Hanover Park. Oops. There were no valuables in the folder, only our itinerary, information on all our classes and all our hotels. I called the bank, and told them we'd be back the next day. Fortunately, we would be heading from Wisconsin back to Indiana, and Hanover Park was not too far out of our way. Thus our travel dramas begin.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Muncie, IN July 7

After Monticello, to paraphrase the song City of New Orleans (by Steve Goodman, made popular by Arlo Guthrie) we "drove along past houses farms and fields" although more farms and fields than houses. We saw a school and a church surrounded by nothing but corn and soybeans for miles. The towns in this area have old world names like Norway and Peru.

We were looking forward to seeing our friend Lisa Love again. We always have a nice time in Muncie. Last time, after class, we went to a Thai restaurant with Lisa and all the students and we plan to go out for dinner after this class as well.

One of the problems with doing classes in summer is that many students go on vacation. So our class in Muncie had only about eight students. The upside of this is that each student gets a lot of individual attention. Of course, Lisa Love would like to give more of her students the opportunity to have class with Valery, so we made a plan to return on August 28th. Mark your calendar.

After class we went to a Chinese buffet! We talked about our expertise in this area and Lisa recommended a sushi restaurant which we might visit some day if we ever remember the name or the city. (Note to self: start writing these things down.)

After a very nice meal and conversation, we got back in the car for a long drive along highway 65 towards Chicago. This was the Saturday after Independence Day and Indiana's flat terrain allows you to scan the horizon for miles. Once it became dark we had a constant display of fireworks on either side of the road. It was like we were being feted all the way to our hotel.

Monticello, Indiana July 7

Last winter we arrived in Monticello, Indiana under cover of darkness and left the same way. I mentioned in this blog that Monticello had "beautiful scenery on the lakes" that we did not see.

It is much more pleasant to travel in the summer with the long daylight hours. We have more energy and more time to experience some of the places where we teach.

We arrived in Monticello the evening before our class and checked into the Pine View Resort. It seemed like a nice hotel if you want to get away for a relaxing vacation. It has a large golf course and an attractive pool- although we took advantage of neither. Most interesting for us was the car dealership across the street. The cars were displayed on the edge of a corn field. It was a nice bit of Americana.

Instead we drove past a drive in movie theater and stopped at a small Chinese buffet. We like to eat at buffet style restaurants, especially Chinese buffets. You don't need to wait for table service, you get variety and enough food to fill a dancer who has just finished teaching two classes, and you don't need to read menus in English. After three educational tours we're becoming experts on the nation's Chinese buffets. We waxed nostalgic about the best Asian buffet we experienced. We remembered all the options and the wonderful sushi, but neither of us could remember in what city we found it. We had a vague notion it might have been somewhere in Indiana.

But perhaps you were more interested in ballet... Dance Magic in Monticello is a spacious studio above the shops on the town's main street. We were happy to see that they had four boys in the class. Most studios in the U.S. seem to have one or two boys and Valery often ends up addressing the class like: "Good job girls... and boy."

In Monticello, Valery gave his children's class its first full unveiling and the boys really came to life during the jumps in the center. Once again we had "very good emotion" and we left for Muncie with smiles on our faces.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Garrett, Indiana July 5-6

We now take you to the travelog portion of our blog...

On Independence Day we load up the car with our suitcases and a couple of boxes of A Child's Introduction to Ballet, plug our portable CD player in to the dashboard and start our adventure. En route Valery listens to class music and waves his hands in those familiar motions representing the feet.

He brought two new CDs with class music from Russia, and he is now filling our drive time with classes of different levels that take place in his head. This helps pass the 3 1/2 hour drive quite well.

A huge amount of mental preparation goes into planning classes. After arriving at our hotel Valery continues to run combinations in his head, listening to the CD player through headphones and doing plies in the corner. I watch fireworks in the distance through the hotel window.

The following moring we're reunited with Patricia Krus. First, we want to congratulate Patricia (Patsy to her students) on her retirement. Our classes and a competition in Texas will be the last big project before she hands the reins of the Patricia Krus School of Dance to Alicia Smith.

Patricia has planned a wonderful book signing event in the Knights of Columbus Hall beneath her studio. (The studio is on the second floor) She has set up a small table with flowers and a table cloth and the 19 track CD with musical selections of great ballets from our book is playing in the background.

Book signings are always hit or miss affairs. Unless you're a big star there is not usually heavy traffic. So it is a relaxing way to start our tour and very successful. We go through an entire box of books. (Note to self: I have to order more copies of the book)

The 19 track CD is nice but short and after playing it through three times we switch to Valery's class music and he goes back to his mental preparations.

The double class (a three hour class) that follows is also a success. For the younger students Valery has prepared some special combinations that are both fun and educational. It is great to see the children enjoying the material.

On the 6th of July, Valery builds on the material from the first class. There is, as Valery likes to say "good emotion." We bid farewell to Patricia Krus and our Garrett friends with hugs and tears and head on to our next city. We hope to return to Garrett in the future and hope to see Patricia Krus and all our friends there again.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

And We're Off

Happy Independence Day!

Valery Lantratov and I watched the fireworks early because this will be our first travel day and then two months of teaching begins.

For the past few days Valery has been preparing materials for his class. If you've participated in one of his classes before, you'll find that this is an entirely new experience. We have all new music and he has prepared a special fun class for the littlest aspiring ballerinas.

We're especially pleased to have music for class with themes from great ballets like Romeo and Juliet and Giselle. This ties in very well with our book A Child's Introduction to Ballet (which you can buy by clicking on the link to the right, plug, plug.) The book, which is geared towards readers around age 8-10, comes with a CD with excerpts from many of the ballets featured in the book. A child can read about Swan Lake while listening to Tchaikovsky's music, for example.

Our first class in Garrett, Indiana, will be combined with a book signing. I believe that Patricia Krus is offering a special price that includes a book and the class with Valery Lantratov. We love this idea. Now a student can get the book, read about the history of ballet and the stories of great ballets and then hear more music from these ballets while taking class.

If you're hosting a class with Valery Lantratov and would like to do a book signing as well, please let us know as soon as possible so we know how many books to take with us. Once we're on the road in August, we won't be back to our home base at all until the end of the tour.

We also still have a few open dates in our schedule in August. We have dates available in the Harrisburg/Allentown, PA area; Richmond, VA; Washington D.C./Baltimore and the Triangle region of North Carolina. If you would like to suggest a studio in this area that might have an interest in booking Valery Lantratov, please send it to lauralee@doublevpromotions.com.

We'll see you on the road!